Hello Dear Reader,
Apologies my blog posts are occasional due to contracting a viral infection. Well actually I need to slow down a bit so I can research articles properly. That said I’m often upset by the way girls are portrayed as sex objects in the media. I’ve just completed a week of study into the topic of sexualization of girls and I have concluded that there is a general lack of action on this serious problem. It’s a vicious circle and girls are groomed from a young age to participate in seemingly innocent photo opportunities. This to me is a sexual no-no and it’s a vast global industry fuelled in large part by corporate greed, social media and digital technology.
The exact definition of no-no is something that should not be done or is against the rules. Sexualization of girls in media is a disturbing and often unnoticed modern-day trend. There’s a difference between owning your sexuality and being sexualized. It’s a fact that girls are faced with everyday. Sexualization of girls in media is forbidden or not advisable, as because of being improper or unsafe.
Magazines, television, video games and music videos all have a harmful effect, a task force from the American Psychological Association has reported. The proliferation of sexualized images of young girls in advertising, merchandising and media is harming girls’ self-image and healthy development. Eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression are the most common mental health problems in girls. The Report of The American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on The Sexualization of Girls , issued in 2007, points out the connection between these problems and the sexualization of girls.
The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that the proliferation of sexual images of girls in the media is harming their self-image and development. “We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development,” said Dr Eileen Zurbriggen, Chair of the APA Task Force. “The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development,” she said. The (APA) task force was set up after mounting public concern about the sexualization of young girls. Journalists, child advocacy organizations, parents and psychologists have argued that the sexualization of girls is a broad and increasing problem and is harmful to girls.
The Sexualization of Girls and Mental Health Problems: Is There a Connection?
There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when;
1. a person’s value comes only from their sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics.
2. a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy.
3. a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making.
4. sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.
All four conditions need not be present as any one is an indication of sexualization. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children.
Images of sexualized girls are becoming increasingly common in advertising and marketing material. Girls who seem aged 12 years and under are dressed, posed and made up in the same way as sexy adult models. “Corporate pedophilia” is a metaphor used to describe advertising and marketing that sexualizes girls in these ways.
Study Shows TV’s Increased Sexual Exploitation of Teen Girls
So how important is bad language in our acceptance of girls as sex objects? Well as far as I’m concerned it’s right up there as a primary cause. Woman is a major problem because it’s an out-dated word that gives men perceived ownership of all girls. I’m reminded of the lyrics of a popular song by Neil Diamond: “Girl, you’ll be a woman soon. Soon you’ll need a man.” Yuck! Woman is a man’s word and thus gives rise to a man’s world. Gender possessive references like this to girls are found in all areas of our society. The need for action is urgent and gender correct terms included in our vocabulary are a big part of the solution. Vef is recommended as a proper word to describe an adult female person.
Why is male included in the word female? I suggest using the word feme and thus creating a balance. Feme and male are coequal words. Feme can be embraced as the proper word to describe a person (animal or plant) who is distinct from male.
Oh Yes! Positive change will take a long time but it must be done for the sake of both sexes. Vef Foundation is actively encouraging the notion of gender equality for boys and girls. Would you like to take part in this discussion? If so I urge you to leave a comment. Many thanks.
Feminism in writing by Michelle Voynet